The Lompoc-Vandenberg Branch of the American Association of University Women (AAUW) is inviting the community to attend its inaugural Speech Trek Contest at 4 p.m. Friday in the City Council Chambers at Lompoc City Hall, 100 Civic Center Plaza.

High school students of all genders will compete for scholarships during the contest. The participating students represent Lompoc, Cabrillo and Maple high schools.

During the open event on Friday, each of the contestants will give a five- to six-minute speech on the topic: “How can we stand up to sexism? What can I do as an individual; what can organizations like AAUW do to break down stereotypes and biases in school, in the military, at work, and in our communities?”

The students will be judged on their performances. The panel of judges is set to include Lompoc Mayor Bob Lingl, Misha Dalcerri, Deb Willems, Barbara Bennie and Nora Wallace. Light refreshments will be served.

The first-place winner will receive $200, and that student’s videoed presentation will automatically advance to AAUW’s California state-level contest.

The local runner-up will receive $150, while the third-place finisher will receive $100.

“Public speaking skills can be learned and (then), once attained, these skills advance democracy by encouraging public discourse on societal issues, and advance careers by enhancing interview and job performance skills,” according to a statement from the local AAUW.

For additional information regarding Speech Trek, contact Pam Buchanan at pamelajoybuchanan@icloud.com, or 588-2916. For information on joining or supporting AAUW, contact Elena Jones at edavey@hotmail.com.

This report was prepared by Willis Jacobson. He can be reached at wjacobson@leecentralcoastnews.com.